When she was only 12 years old, Burlington singer-songwriter Rebecca Kopycinski decided she wanted to be a rock star. These days she doesn’t play with a band or even own an electric guitar, but her passionate vocals and Wall-of-Sound arrangements produce powerful music – in her recordings and onstage.
Music contributor Matt Bushlow has this story.
(Bushlow) Kopycinski, also known as Nuda Veritas, often sings songs while she plays an acoustic guitar. But she doesn’t want you to think of her that way.
(Kopycinski) "From the very beginning, I didn’t want to be ‘a girl with her guitar,’ I think that’s just kind of played out. And personally, it bores me. So I always wanted to have something else. I call it ‘The Unique Factor.’"
(Bushlow) Her personal unique factor involves loops of repeated sounds or phrases. When Kopycinski loops some keyboard lines, a snippet of a cassette tape squealing through fast forward, and a few layers of her voice, it’s easy to forget there’s only one of her.
(Kopycinski) "I’ve shown up to gigs before and I’ve heard, the club promoter say to people who are asking, "Oh, it’s a band with a few girls in it. It’s a girl band." This happened recently in Northampton, and I walked up and said, "No, no, no. It’s just me." And people don’t realize that I can get this large sound behind me just by myself."
(Bushlow) For years, Kopycinski split her creative energy between this kind of heavily layered music and more subdued acoustic tunes. But recently, she’s begun to find common ground between the two sides of her musical personality.
She also explores the theme of duality both onstage and on her 2011 album, Verses of Versus.
(Kopycinski) "I started to realize that I was a person that at the same time embodied two extreme opposites – in many different, different aspects of my life. I was eating really well and exercising, but then I would go out and, you know, have a really good time. And, ah, I was a super introverted hermit, but I was also desperately in need of socialization and people around me."
(Bushlow) Writing about the conflicts within herself – and bringing together the acoustic and experimental sides of her music have helped her gain greater balance in her life and art.
Kopycinski says it also helps that she had great experiences in the past year touring New England playing songs from Verses of Versus:
(Kopycinski) "People don’t really know what it is I’m doing, and I think a lot of times they’re – I don’t want to say floored, because I don’t want to sound full of myself, but I’ve had random strangers come up to me after shows and just wordlessly give me a bear hug. I’m like, Okay, I guess that was good. [laughs] I guess you liked that."
(Bushlow) Sometimes the reaction to her shows is more traditional. During a set at Higher Ground in South Burlington, the crowd listened in silence and then broke out in enthusiastic applause after each song.
You could say it was the audio equivalent of getting a bear hug from 150 people.
For VPR, I’m Matt Bushlow.